From the Carcass of the Beast: Poems and Artwork

Johanna [33]



Anti-anorexia is like weeding the soil of the mind; it is an ongoing process, it is a lifelong process
The more fertile the soil of the soul, spirit and mind the more weeds there seem to be
The weed metaphor describes Perfectionism
The weed of perfectionism should be plucked out by its roots; it does not help to treat the symptoms only
Society will have to face the ways in which it fertilizes the roots of perfectionism, eg. by prescribing that our value as human beings has to be earned through performance
Anorexia/bulimia leads to institutionalised treatment, and sometimes the symptoms disappear, but the roots remain firmly embedded in the fibre of society
The third eye in the painting is the symbol for insight/vision; this is an important trick: nobody can pluck the root out for you, nobody else has access. You have the vision to see the truth, to cut through the crap; it is incredibly difficult because Anorexia/Bulimia is a manifestation of the way in which Perfectionism emotionally, spiritually and physically starves us. Society refuses to see this and individuals end up being labelled and institutionalised.
If you drink the water of Perfection to earn your self value you will remain thirsty and dry; if you drink the water of truth, the fact that you have consistent value, that God is within and can choose to believe it, you can stop struggling desperately to meet up to society’s demands and your own internalised societal norms
Children are able to pluck out the weeds, but somewhere along the line they also choose to betray their truths to fit in with the rest.



The flames of light are united in anti-anorexia and stronger than anorexia

The importance of togetherness, mutuality and caring when resisting anorexia and selfharm in clear in the way their fingers are intertwined and their bodies stand comfortably close to one another

Shows the value of love, care and togetherness in the face of anorexia’s onslaught

The flourishing tree on his T-shirt and the struggling tree on hers:

Both the flourishing tree and the struggling tree are equal in value in the eyes of God/the universe. The flourishing tree does not have more value than the struggling tree

Strength lies in unity, as embodied in her an anti-anorexic response network

Holding a bulb

Holding a Bulb

Hope of a new life is respresented in hte bulb

I root myself to the earth, just as the bulb will

I use this as a logo for my work: I believe in holding a safe space for both partners and in sharing energy as the way to grow

the bulb is the antithesis to self starvation: it represents life at its core

Holding a bulb symbolizes the possibility of believing that when you invest in something you can expect a wonderful return

Planting a bulb promises the growth of a beautiful plant

Patience and resilience, faith and vision, and hope

I have the guts to hold a bulb because it is fragile and symbolizes growth, health and life

I have the guts to hold on to the possibility of growth, life and healing

The holder becomes part of the bulb; becomes rooted


It also represents the flame of light and hope, like holding a candle.


This artwork refers to the poems “from the carcass of the beast”, namely Prayer and Holding/Letting go

stories are like seeds

I need to trust to let some parts of my story go, to sow them freely like seeds, so they can settle in the fertile ground of other people’s lifestories

there the seeds can germiante and grow into healthy plants, feeding on the compost of anorexia

This is self nourishment, livening up, preparing for life and the next season

New life sprouts forth in the form of new living segmetns of myself and the universe; we are all one, all part of one another, part of the universe

My seed-stories can fly and plant seeds in the life stories of others



It is an African tribal expression of the paradox of joy and sorrow

Inspired by Kahlil Gibran’s writings on Joy and Sorrow

The depth of my joy/happiness is the measure of my sadness

The mask depicts the existence of a simultaneous duality

The one side is affirming and speaks of Life, Love and Light, while the other side belongs to Self starvation and anorexia. Self starvation and Anorexia want me to close my eyes to life and dis-affirms my right to live as I choose.

The third eye symbolizes INSIGHT: It means I am able to see beyond the duality and to accept MY truth as MY RIGHT to live. The truth is that Self starvation feeds on half-truths and poorly disguised lies.

I can accept the truth “The truth will set me free (like prune juice!)”

The truth is I am scared of going home from the clinic, so Self starvation convinces me that if I eat the way it wants to, the voices and images will remain alive….. Bulimia wants me to eat and eat and eat as overeating is a gateway to the symptoms of illness, e.g. self harm and voices. Anorexia/Bulimia would isolate me from my loved ones and chain me in fear of perfection……the nurses will not understand and inject me with more sedatives, resulting in a longer hospital stay. It wants me to miss my work opportunities and become an invalid.


Perfectionism expects me to participate 100% once I am home, BUT I won’t:

I choose to accept my current reality

I will not be able to drive my car for a while

I will accept challenges at my own pace because I will still be slightly affected by the long acting medications I have received in the clinic

I will take my time

I accept my home will be in a bit of a mess; but I will manage it in my own way and at my own pace

I choose to be with my husband and my children; in my own space


From the carcass of the beast SEVEN POEMS


 Let our souls soak

in the honey

of the stories

we bring forth

from the carcass

of the beast

as riddles:



2. To eat or be eaten

3. Resurrection

4. BreakFast

5. Being

6. To hold or let go

7. Declaration



1. Prayer:

dead flowers

just fall


will you teach me

to just let go

knowing of

the compost

I must be

for next time’s me


2.To eat or be eaten:

some days ago

this well-known shadow

started licking at my skin

soon eating tiny bites

to challenge and

excite me for the fight:

now greedy gashes

and delighted horror

at the painful mess

 my fleshy strength

goes lost as

it eats more

and I eat

less and





for that moment when

my healthy hungriness exceeds

the dark one’s needs

so I can say now go away

again you’ve lost the fight!


and I’ll be generous again

and take brave bites of light


3. Resurrection:

and now

after many days

she sees

she’s strong alone

and none of them

are looking now

but One who nods

for her to go


she tears

herself loose

bleeding freely

from the nails

they all had hammered

in together







calling over her shoulder

as she strides away

for her family to rise


4. BreakFast:

let me

trust my self


as I trust

each mouthful

of this

warm oatmeal

to be

simply sweet and good


5. Being:

just the delight

in my pen that is scratching

as dark ink is drying

in writing


6. To hold or let go:

When I picked this daisy

from the compost heap

she was dying

crisp and dry

as this page on which

my fingers start a story

holding her

hoping for life


I see she has been left

a blunt stump

in the place of roots


further up the thin stem

I feel the pale green

she is holding onto

in her leaves


her head is turned away

her petals saturated grey

dust where I touch a

smell of earthy decay

my fingers stiffen at a cobweb



I let her go


she falls

face turned up

to show the live yellow

of many little pointed


stories just dry

enough to fly


7. Declaration:

I am the warrior

who fought for death

to bring in life


I’m well and fired up to tell

fierce stories peacefully


I’m strong enough

to stand in night


awake enough to bear

the child that came

from loving darkness: